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More coronavirus restrictions expected for Wales after Christmas

THE FIRST MINISTER did not use the word ‘lockdown’.

That is, however, clearly what he signalled as part of the Welsh Government’s plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference held this lunchtime (Friday, December 11), Mark Drakeford announced that the Welsh Government was considering imposing ‘Alert Level 4’ restrictions if the rate
of Covid-19’s spread did not decrease.

Mr Drakeford said tougher restrictions were ‘inevitable’ if the picture didn’t change.

He did not rule out further restrictions BEFORE Christmas but said he regarded them as unlikely.

His words suggest that tough new restrictions could be imposed after Christmas, including the closure of exercise and leisure centres and hospitality closures in the New Year.

Mark Drakeford said the numbers were going in the wrong direction and cases were rising in all areas of Wales.

A significant amount of the blame for the rise in cases was, the First Minister claimed, down to ‘small acts of selfishness’ by members of the public.

He disclosed there were 1,500 staff fewer working within the Welsh NHS than there were in September because of the number of staff self-isolating following exposure to the virus.

The First Minister said outdoor attractions would close, but winter markets would be allowed to continue.

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Mr Drakeford’s tone was sombre, and his remarks foreshadowed a return to the lockdown measures first introduced in April at worst or those imposed during the firebreak lockdown at best.

The First Minister also said that, while the Welsh Government was considering ‘Alert Level Four’ restrictions, it would consider a more regional or local approach. That would happen, however, only if rates of infection and case numbers diverged between different parts of Wales.

Andrew RT Davies – the Conservatives’ Shadow Health Minister – said: “Wales continues to face a dire situation, made worse by the poor political decisions that the Labour administration has made this Autumn and Winter.

“However, as Welsh Conservatives, we stand ready to work across party lines to address this national emergency.”

Plaid Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth responded to the prospect of what would amount to another national lockdown in a BBC interview.
“The problem with a fully national system,” Mr ap Iorwerth said, “is that you’re trying to balance what’s effective in high incident areas with what’s acceptable in low prevalence areas.”